For two years now, Elimu has sought to mobilize support through virtual gatherings that provide a glimpse into our work in Kenya. This year, we ran a watch party to launch our first-ever documentary which tells the story of how ragdolls kept our girls safe and busy during the pandemic lockdowns and eventually lead to an amazing new way to connect with our global network. The great turnout was a huge encouragement to the team who worked to make it happen.

Pendo! The documentary was produced by Dagang Gang, a Nigerian-Canadian who used his pandemic downtime to reskill in the field of broadcasting. He offered himself as a college intern to our president, Nina Chung, in Ottawa in January. Taking on the challenge to help Elimu produce a video that recounted the journey of the Pendo ragdolls project was a moment of reawakening for him and revealed how much one can learn about themselves from other peoples’ experiences. Video production was a new for him, but the resilience of the girls to try out something new, inspired him. His efforts were rewarded at Nairobi’s Grand International Film Festival in May when the video garnered 2nd place in the documentary category.

Cindy Rodriguez, founder of Elimu Girls, our partners in Los Angeles, shared how her first meeting with our sewing students in 2013 awoke a part of her spirit, “I saw myself in those girls, and my mother and grandmother too. I saw a Mexican girl who needed a second chance at life, but had limited resources. Anytime I hold Pendo, I am reminded of a girl who, though subjected to unfortunate circumstances like female genital mutilation and early marriage, she made this incredible doll. And she is rising, and in essence, so am I!”

“We started the Pendo dolls project as a way to provide the girls something meaningful to do during the harsh times of COVID-19 when everything had stalled. And now we see how the impact of their work has rippled across the world. So many people are embracing the love and resilience that created Pendo. And this for us is a big blessing to the girls in the sewing program. It is also hope to many other girls who we are yet to reach.” – Kamotho Ndung’u, Elimu CEO

Many come from rural backgrounds and have little or no prior exposure with computers. These training sessions at the Centre were their first attempt at operating a computer. As adults with only basic education, their ability to cope with the world of computers was a challenge for them. But our Cisco instructor is very passionate about helping them navigate the digital world. He patiently guided them through the basic components of the computer. With his usual friendly approach he motivates his students to actively participate. The hands-on practical experience made every ranger comfortable with the learning process.

By the end of the training, they were all able to use various applications, type and organise reports, create a presentation, and use email for official communications. What’s more, all passed the training assessment test showing that they left with the comprehensive computer skills they need for their jobs. Each ranger earned a certificate of completion. They were ecstatic to receive their first-ever certificate and rightly felt proud of their achievements.


It was a thrilling experience for the girls to meet and interact with their benefactors from around the world by virtual means. For these girls whose lives had initially been confined to the village, with little prospect of an education, this year’s event elevated their spirits and broadened their viewpoints. We believe this type of positive exposure to a broader world and sharing ideas beyond their limited experience opens up their creativity and shows them that they can rise above the circumstances of their lives.

This priceless comment from one of our students sums it up beautifully. “I have never felt this important in my life. We were picked up from school and dropped back home safely after the event. When we got to the Centre, we were treated with so much respect and love. They told us we were the guests of honour. We all wore our favourite dresses. We had all sorts of delicacies prepared for us. And we danced and had fun. We could never imagine something like this.”

It was meant as a celebration of achievements as well as a thanksgiving for the amazing community of support around us. The Centre’s compound where we held the event was bursting with joy from everyone present. This came out clearly during the cake cutting. The whole team led by one of the teachers sang songs of thanksgiving to God for all the blessings received. Everyone clapped and danced along in high spirits.

Each received a share of the cake served by Elimu alumni, Nancy and Prisca – two of the new entrepreneurs whom the Pendo dolls represent and whose stories they share abroad. It was moving to listen to them describe their journeys after school as entrepreneurs. They inspired the girls still in school, as one remarked, “Listening to Nancy and Prisca gave me hope that I too will be great and have my own business. They have inspired us to work harder at school.

In our usual spirit of co-creation, it was our volunteers who took charge of the day ensuring everything including the decorations and meals were set. One could feel the spirit of Africa shining through the beautifully patched Ankara fabrics on the walls. For the Elimu team who had spent many weeks planning and piecing together all logistics, it was a moment of sheer delight.

Pendo means love in Swahili. This event showed us the magic that happens when we connect to champion a noble cause. We are indeed thankful to all our friends and partners who joined us and who help to spread the love that Pendo represents across the globe. We continue to celebrate the miracles of transformation happening through Pendo and our sewing project.

Click here to view Elimu’s Pendo documentary on our YouTube Channel anytime. It’s just 15 minutes long.


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Elimu empowers learners to increase academic and digital literacy, improve school retention and encourage self-sustainability through employment planning and entrepreneurship. 

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